Turning your passion into a billion-dollar company is exactly what Socrates Rosenfeld did.
After spending seven years in the military as a helicopter pilot, Socrates suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder and turned to cannabis for healing therapy.
He always knew that the plant had healing factors. He then used his eCommerce skills to make purchasing cannabis online a simple process for others too.
In turn, his company, Jane Technologies, has supported local cannabis retailers across the nation.
Socrates has learned that he’s only human, and often made mistakes through the years. His philosophy is to own them, learn the lesson and move on. As you read further, you’ll learn how to stay authentic, take risks, follow your own passions, and never stop believing in yourself and your product.
Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.
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Socrates was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Boston. After an interesting childhood, Socrates went on and graduated high school and got accepted to West Point in 2000.
He had absolutely no idea what he would do there but always knew he wanted to do something different and adventurous with his life. Something challenging, something unique, something diverse.
Socrates learned that flying helicopters was hard to get into during his time at West Point. So at 21 years old, he decided to try it out and got accepted. At this point in his life, Socrates was doing what everyone told him what he “should” be doing.
After graduating from West Point, he went to flight school in Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he learned to fly helicopters, giving him a challenging and one of the most exciting experiences of his life. Socrates was deployed on several missions throughout this time. Spending seven years in the Army, and dealing with the responsibilities of keeping people safe.
When Socrates left the military service at 29 years old, he struggled to get back into society. The adjustment had a significant toll on him emotionally, and he turned to cannabis in 2011 to help him cope with his transition out of military life.
Socrates found his discovery of cannabis helped him fully come back home – spiritually and emotionally – and then become a firm believer in cannabis’ healing powers, especially for soldiers returning from combat.
After Socrates adjusted to modern society, he went on to study his Master’s program at MIT. From there on, he started working at McKinsey, where he could confidently apply the discipline and experiences from the Army into his career.
Working at McKinsey taught Socrates about communication and thinking on his feet and compared it to his time in the Army. Armed with excellent communication skills, he could tackle any complex problem in the workplace and break it down into smaller bite-size pieces in order to come up with a solution.
These skills also helped him to become an entrepreneur later in life.
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Jane Technologies is a unique online shopping platform where you can purchase different products across the United States, a lot similar to Amazon’s business structure – with the ease of use like Shopify.
However, instead of shipping the products directly from the company, Jane sends your orders across the local markets, and you end up ordering the products from local retailers.
By supporting smaller, local businesses, Jane Technologies provides local retailers with eCommerce technology that they had never previously accessed, allowing them to fully automate their sales systems.
Socrates describes Jane Technologies as a combination of Amazon or Shopify. Jane is similar to the model of Uber where they use online technology to connect to local businesses.
Socrates has raised about $130M to date, and recently closed Jane’s Series C funding. A notable leap from raising about $6M in their Series A funding round. Socrates didn’t have the right network to raise early-stage funding, so he first approached his family and friends from the military, which allowed him to open 100 stores.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Socrates Rosenfeld was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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After a successful 2019, the pandemic hit the world in 2020, and Socrates became focused on funding for his business. The pandemic forced consumers to do their shopping online, and cannabis became a big part of that.
This boosted Jane’s sales, from about $100M gross merchandise value in 2019 to $1.6B in 2020. Socrates is confident that Jane Technologies will now do about $3.5B, and foresees a lot of growth in the upcoming years.
Socrates believed that Jane Technologies would fail if he wasn’t patient. He thought that pitching his business to those who would listen to him was like planting seeds – they don’t grow overnight, they take time.
The passion for what you do also count towards any business success, and cannabis is Socrates’ soul passion. Along with Socrates’ passion and authenticity as a CEO of the business, he has succeeded in growing Jane to over 100 employees.
The Cannabis Ecosystem
Socrates sees the cannabis industry’s future as an ecosystem with room for everyone who wishes to be a part of the industry. To him, it’s all about protecting the integrity of the cannabis plant and promoting the wellness aspect of it.
He reinforces the fact that cannabis is a healing plant, and as a society, we should refrain from unfairly targeting people, especially in minority communities.
Within the next five years, Socrates would like to see cannabis available to all consumers who need it to heal themselves from sickness, provide relief in a person’s transition in this world, and make it readily available to everyone who needs it.
By protecting the integrity of the consumer, the integrity of the business, and the integrity of the plant, Socrates believes we can build a balanced ecosystem worldwide. In turn, this will bring more love to the world, which is one of Jane Technologies’ missions.
Socrates’ advice is not just to endure life but to embrace the experiences that life offers, the ups along with the downs.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- How to ask for help as an entrepreneur
- How to take your life experiences and turn them into a successful business
- Staying authentic to yourself, no matter how successful you get
- How to take risks to follow your passions
- How to raise funds through the various funding stages